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Packing for Rome

My teenage son and I are flying from Green Bay, WI to Chicago and then nonstop to Rome via American Airlines coach in late April. I'm reading that we are allowed only one carry-on item for the trip. I was hoping to avoid checking our luggage until the trip home, but this makes things look more difficult. Do they have overhead bins? Can't I at least carry a purse in addition to my luggage? This is my first trip outside the US, so I am clueless and frightened on so many levels. Thanks!

Posted by
8882 posts

Janet, first off don't be scared. You are going to see one of the most fascinating cities in the world. I've flown AA a couple of times to Europe. Yes, they have overhead bins and yes you can bring your purse, backpack, as long as it fits beneath the seat in front of you or in the bin above. I always travel with the RS Classic BackDoor bag and never check it. Keep culling until your bag is comfortable to carry or roll and lift. Think small, not huge. You can travel very easily if you pack lightly. Same for your son. Check the Graffiti Wall for tips how to pack as well as watch the video Michael posted.

BTW instead of a purse why not invest in a PacSafe item and a money belt. Both will help you allay some of your angst about traveling abroad.

GREAT city. Read the RS Rome 2009 book before you go. Wonderful insight.

Bella Roma!

Posted by
9109 posts

All big planes have overhead bins. You will be allowed to carry your purse in addition to the one carry-on. How much luggage did you want to take with you?
This video gives you some pointers on packing light:

Posted by
893 posts

Janet, I think that packing light is one of the most important things you can do to make the traveling day & whole trip a lot easier. My husband & I each carry on a 22" suitcase & he carries a backpack & I carry Rick's daybag. We don't check bags. When we arrive, we don't have to stand around luggage carousels, or worry that our suitcase won't show up. A couple of packing ideas: I wear & pack pants/capris/skirt that are black or tan. Every shirt, vest, sweater & jacket I bring go with both colors. Wear 1 pair of shoes & bring 1 more. I only bring 1 sweater, 1 vest & 1 jacket if the season needs them. You can do laundry & hand wash while you are there. (Yes when we are looking at the pictures of our trip, we see the same clothes over & over) Go through your makeup & facial items & get it down to the minimum. Pack the suitcase 2 days before leaving so that you aren't stressed out the night before. You can carry a purse instead of a backpack but whatever you do, don't keep money, debit cards or credit cards in the purse, use a moneybelt or neck pouch. Please don't be frightened, this is supposed to be fun and it will be. Read a lot of these posts, and you will be well prepared. Have a great trip!

Posted by
14 posts

Hey Janet - my husband and I went to Italy last year and only brought carry on. It was a little challenging but if I can do it - so can you. In addition to my carry on luggage I brought a backpack and put my purse (and Rick Steves Italy book) inside. The backpack wasn't any bigger than some of the huge purses that are popular now. I packed a lot of dry-fit clothing (2 black skirts and about 6 colorful shirts) and 2 wrap style dresses. God love polyester - no wrinkles and fashionable. Extra bonus- it doesn't take up much space. I brought 2 pairs of comfy shoes that looked fine with the skirts and dresses and also brought hiking shoes and sandals for our trip to the Cinque Terra. We brought some Tide with us and did a little laundry in the hotel sinks in several of the locations but didn't find it burdensome. April may be a little more challenging because it will be cooler but it should be do-able.
BTW - I love my Green Bay Packers! I'm from the UP and live in Chicago now. Have a great time with your son - you will love it!

Posted by
944 posts

Rick in the video says you can get anything easily by buying In Country. That is not entirely true in Italy. Pack Sunscreen/Blocker, and if you wear contacts, an eye wash that you are familiar with. Both of these are super expensive in Italy. Sunscreen seems to be a controlled substance.

My wife taught me about the two bag system. Big check-in rolley and carry-on smaller rolley. The carry-on has all the really important stuff for at least three days. The Check-in rolley has all your back-up stuff and things you want to take, but are not essential. And when the larger bags get lost in luggage transfers, then it isn't a big deal.

The back pack idea works if you lock it all down. It has all these access pouches out of sight and behind you. I've seen the pickpockets at work. They love Backpacks. That's why I prefer the rolley luggage: Its always in front of you in full view when you get on a train or bus. And it is low and not in the way of other people like a backpack. We have the habit of putting both our rolley luggage together, with us on either side. So at least one of us is always looking at the luggage. The pickpockets are easy to spot. They are near always young women - 14 to 20. Most big rolleys have straps to carry the smaller rolley on its back. So you are only pulling one handle. The main drawback to the rolleys is that the wheels will fail on the rough streets of Italy. So I cut the original wheels off and added commercial grade casters which have replaceable wheels. My rolleys have about 60 miles of outdoor road use on them and are still going strong.

Posted by
121 posts

Hi Janet - wow I miss GB and DC - we haven't been up there in a couple of years. With regards to Rome, what a fun trip! How long are you staying in Rome? Since this is your first trip over you will be tempted to overpack - don't. You won't need nearly as much as you think. My husband, teen daughter, and I went over for a month and traveled to five countries with only carry on bags. You can take a personal bag (purse, sm. backpack, laptop bag, etc.) in addition to one carry on. Read the overhead dimensions on American's site and measure your carry on. Carefully select what you will need, and use packing cubes. If you forget something you really can get it over there - it's a small world after all. Let me know if you have lodging or activity questions. Have fun Janet! Michelle

Posted by
121 posts

Janet - I second the necessity of a money belt. Better safe than sorry.

Posted by
8 posts

I can't begin to thank everyone enough for all the great advice and especially for the encouragement! I'm feeling more confident already.

Posted by
1589 posts

Janet,

Check the section on packing light. In general, one needs only about one half the "essentials" that one would think. Have a great trip with your son!

Posted by
340 posts

Everyone here talks about packing light, and they are right. Each time I go I take fewer things and still wish I had brought less! The next time I go I am planning on leaving about 2" at the top of my suitcase and then buying a couple of cute tops or skirts to expand my wardrobe when I am there. The basic black/khaki suggestion above works perfect. As for a moneybelt, I always have trouble with one irritating my skin so I came up with this idea: I made a small "pocket" with snap closures out of a silky fabric that just holds my passport, cards, etc. Then I use safety pins to pin it securely inside my clothes each morning. This way I don't have to deal with straps, belts, etc. My husband has used a shirt or vest that has an inside pocket with a zipper that also works well. Keep a small amount of cash handy, though, so you aren't awkwardly digging it out of your concealed hiding place every time you want to buy some little thing. Also, Janet, I was nervous prior to my first trip, too, but don't fret, you will have a wonderful time. Yes, things will be different there and you may have language problems sometimes, but that is part of the adventure! If you try to approach the trip with the mindset that even an unexpected experience is part of the opportunity to explore a new land and culture you will have fun!

Posted by
1 posts

Please heed the comment about suncreen. I went in 2006 and ran out of suncreen. I ended up paying almost 30 dollars for suncreen.

Posted by
121 posts

Janet - since liquid space is so regulated for carry on luggage, my family each took a solid sunscreen stick and it did not have to fit in our quart size bag for liquids. It was also easy to fit in our daypack.